Falling in Love with Veggies: 5 Tips for Cooking Pleasurable & Nourishing Meals
Updated: Jul 3, 2018
writing & photography by Alexandra L. Edwards
No dessert is necessary – he is like the cupid for falling in love with vegetables. Joseph Brown has often been told he could have been a chef. Joseph's skills and knowledge are not going to waste though. He is a Life Coach and the Director of the Optimal Wellness & Lifestyle Support (OWLS) program for a medical clinic in Normandy Park, WA. The program covers all the interconnected areas of wellness, including nutrition guidance. This nutrition guidance will not only cover the balance of macronutrients and micronutrients for individual needs, but also help people enjoy what they're eating too.
Joseph has a gift for creating harmonies with flavor, texture, and colors when it comes to veggies. I was given the opportunity to experience one of his artistically prepared meals and his creative process from the grocery store to the kitchen.
Most of us know that eating plants, especially the leafy kind, is one commonly agreed upon thread in the messy world of nutrition information. When we think of healthy eating though, pleasure is often forgotten and vegetables are hardly ever high on the list of preferred choices, at least within our culture. Pleasure contributes to the health benefits of food, and there is a way to have foods that increase your energy, prevent serious diseases and illnesses, help you heal, and taste so amazing you're too content and satisfied to consider dessert as was my experience. I'm not sure I can ever remember a time when I went for seconds on veggies and bypassed a raspberry pie with vanilla bean ice cream because I was too full on taste-orchestrated vegetables.
In my interview with Joseph, he shared his philosophy and 5 cooking tips to try:
Joseph's Veggie Cooking Philosophy
The more natural tastes you can accentuate from whatever you’re cooking, the more delicious and appetizing it will be and continue to be. It's important to think simplistically. The more tastes you can derive, the more delicious it is going to be. It's also important to think about the 5 taste profiles, then expound from there — think about spicy, umami, salty sweetness, or tart. These 5 tastes are exclusively picked up by the tongue, whereas all other flavor profiles and complexities are experienced by the olfactory receptors in the nose, which is a direct pathway to the brain. Therefore, I find it more important to initially take into consideration the 5 basic tastes of the tongue before thinking about what complexities the nose smells. The best foods I've ever had, have been able to harmoniously combine all of the 5 basic tastes of the tongue, which is not easy, but possible.
1. A Good Cooking Oil & Salt are the Basics to Get Started, so no Need to Get Overwhelmed
Some oils Joseph recommended with some excellent health benefits depending on the flavor you're seeking are:
♥ Olive Oil
♥ Grapeseed Oil
♥ Avocado Oil
♥ Coconut Oil
♥ Truffle Oil
♥ Sesame Oil
♥ Palm Oil
♥ Peanut Oil (adds a great flavor and has a high smoke point, but use this one in moderation, because it is higher in omega-6 fatty acids)
2. Cooking Methods Affect Nutrition & Flavor
"Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet" (a quote by an unknown author) came to mind during his cooking process. Mindfulness and patience are key elements in learning and cooking well. For example, to extract the most flavor from onions, try a medium level heat for longer time rather than high heat for a short time. Pay close attention during the cooking process – cooking is like a form of meditation.
The methods Joseph uses most are grilling, steaming, frying, and broiling depending on the flavor he is seeking. Some of his tips for cooking are to cook the vegetables enough, but not too much. They should still have a little bit of "crispness" to them.
3. Variety is Important
Variety of color and texture is an art and science when it comes to cooking vegetables. It brings nourishment and joy to the meal. Variety in types of vegetables is also important and is another commonly agreed upon necessity in the world of nutrition. It allows for antioxidant and nutrient variation, along with keeping meals new and interesting.
How the vegetables are cut adds to the art and nourishment of the meal, just as variety of texture and color does. It affects the aesthetics of presentation and the kinesthetic experience of eating the veggies with every bite. It also can affect the nutrient content. An important tip for maintaining nutrient content and achieving beautiful veggie slices, is to use a sharp knife. There is theory that using a dull knife will decrease the amount of flavor, texture, and nutrient loss.
5. Developing Your Own Basic Guidelines
Taste preferences and flavor profiles is like a color wheel. If you're new to cooking vegetables, start simple with a good oil and a non-table salt like Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt. As you develop your skills and confidence, you can experiment with trying to achieve other flavors within the 5 profiles of sweet, salty, tart, umami, and spicy. Start small and work your way up though, just as if you're new to drawing or painting, going from black and white to experimenting with more and more colors.